When we purchased 1010 East Avenue in 1943, we thought we were going to tear it down to make room for the new church building. The next year, we “temporarily delayed” its demolition in the hope that it might still have some value as a community house. In addition to the countless classes, receptions, and potlucks, over the last seventy-five years, 1010 has been the place where children met their adoptive parents, where couples were introduced, and where families were comforted in the wake of loss. In short, it has not only been a house for community, but a home.
But, the needs of the larger community have changed. Over the last seventy-five years, the city of Rochester has experienced an unprecedented growth in poverty. By almost every measure, Rochester is struggling. The child poverty rate has grown to 51.9%, the extreme poverty rate has increased to 16.8%, and we now rank 3rd in overall poverty among the nation’s seventy-five largest metropolitan areas with a rate of 33.1%. With a mission grounded in the love of Christ and a vision to Do More Good, Asbury First has responded, embracing outreach to the community as one of our core values. In 2018, Asbury First served 40,000 meals, packed/delivered 1,000 grocery bags, clothed 6,000 families, and cared for over 600 sick persons. We did all of this service in largely inaccessible spaces spread across our three-building campus. As the demand for clothing, food, and basic medical attention grows, our current facilities are no longer adequate. We need a new kind of community house.
This year we hope to begin converting 1010 East Avenue into a newly renovated and accessible Outreach Center. This will allow us to centralize services, share resources, and put the needs of our guests first. It also marks a shift in our focus to a more holistic approach to caring for the needs of our guests. Our goal is to break ground in the fall of 2019 so that we can dedicate the new Outreach Center on our 200th Anniversary in 2020. In order to do this, however, we need to raise another $1.5 million in commitments this spring. With your help, we can make sure that 1010 continues to be a home for community during the next 75 years—a visceral reminder that we are better together.